Lindsay Lohan's latest big-screen comeback has run afoul of the critics, as the early word on The Canyons is that it borders on being the kind of bad, superfluous moviemaking its supposedly critiquing.
One of the first microbudgeted films from established Hollywood talent, this collaboration between veteran director Paul Schrader and novelist Bret Easton Ellis has garnered mostly negative reviews—not least of which are the knocks the picture has taken for failing to dream up interesting sex scenes despite the pairing of the troubled starlet with real-life porn star James Deen.
Lucky for Lohan, she did have at least one champion in Variety, which dared compare her performance to Marlon Brando's hedonistic turn in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1972 romantic drama The Last Tango in Paris.
The latter write-up prompted Linds to tweet, "Wow…humbled and feeling so much gratitude," with a link to the article.
Alas for Lohan, such praise was more the exception rather than the rule for the film, which follows a trust-fund baby-cum-movie producer (Deen), his girlfriend (Lohan) and their sexually-charged encounters in Hollywood's seedy underbelly.
Here's a sampling of the reviews:
• "Lohan may not go as deep or as far as Brando, but with her puffy skin, gaudy hoop earrings and thick eye makeup, there's a little-girl-lost quality to the onetime Disney teen princess that's very affecting. Whenever she's onscreen, she projects a sense of just barely holding on to that precarious slide area in the shadow of the Hollywood sign," wrote Variety's Scott Foundas in The Canyons' only rave.
• On the other hand, The Hollywood Reporter was less than impressed: "Far from the renegade, boundary-pushing, sexually explicit sensation that its makers have been suggesting, The Canyons is a lame, one-dimensional and ultimately dreary look at peripheral Hollywood types not worth anyone's time either onscreen or in real life."
The trade's Todd McCarthy noted that while the movie suggests explicit sex scenes with the casting of Deen opposite Lohan, "there's nothing beyond standard R-rated talk and nudity"—and did he mention it's kind of boring?
"The undimensional and unambitious character conceptions offer very little for the actors to work with; they have no humor, no worthwhile insights, no detectable, relatable humanity," blasted the critic. "Nor are there significant dramatic opportunities to test either Lohan, who comes off OK but unexceptionally, certainly compared to some of her earlier roles, or the less familiar names."
• "Lohan is a real actress, but in this movie she's puffy and overwrought and unfocussed, and she weeps a lot. At times, needy and confused, she's touching, but you're not sure whether she's crying in character, or lamenting her participation in a low-budget movie, or grieving over her own troubles," observed The New Yorker's David Denby. "Whatever it is, she offers the only palpable emotion in the controlled wastes of The Canyons."
"Lohan (who hasn't carried a hit since 2005's Herbie: Fully Loaded) is more than believable, but neither the script nor her performance quite explains the fatal attraction that Tara seems to exert. In his first non-porn role, Deen is excellent as the icy Christian," opined John Hazelton of Screendaily.com.
• "Instead of commenting on the vapidity of the film industry, Paul Schrader's miscast, poorly executed and utterly soulless drama is an example of the failing art form it seeks to indict. Though it has real ideas, Schrader and his team never manage to put them into action," panned Eric Kohn of Indiewire, giving the movie a D-plus. "Here, Lohan is as bland and unfocused as the material. During the one scene that allows her [to] degrade her oppressive boyfriend, her robotic delivery freezes the possibilities of bona fide tension (as well as titillation, for whatever that's worth)."
The Canyons, which is slated to be screened out of competition at the 70th Venice International Film Festival, will be released on video on demand Aug. 2 and hits theaters on Aug. 9.